GOP senators ask CBO how much immigration provisions in House stimulus bill will cost

A group of Republican senators have asked the Congressional Budget Office to calculate how much measures in the House stimulus bill that directly benefit illegal immigrants would cost the American taxpayer.

“It is unfortunate that instead of working to help the American people, Speaker Pelosi and her majority in the House of Representatives are taking this opportunity to advance the economic well-being of illegal immigrants,” Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; and Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., wrote in a letter to the CBO’s director.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS’ STIMULUS BILL INCLUDES STIMULUS CHECKS FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, PROTECTIONS FROM DEPORTATIONS

”Among other things, H.R. 6800 allows illegal immigrants to claim stimulus payments. In addition, Speaker Pelosi’s bill also provides illegal immigrants with taxpayer funded healthcare services,” they write.

The HEROES ACT, which passed the House last week, includes a number of items that will benefit illegal immigrants, with a provision that would allows some illegal immigrants — who are “engaged in essential critical infrastructure labor or services in the United States” —  to be placed into “a period of deferred action” and authorized to work if they meet certain conditions.

It also grants protections to those employers who hire those undocumented immigrants, ordering that “the hiring, employment or continued employment” of the defined group is not in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. That lasts until 90 days after the public health emergency is ended.

It’s language that was also included in the first House Democratic stimulus bill proposed back in May — a bill that was ultimately rejected in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Also in the legislation is language that would allow the a second round of stimulus checks, $1,200 per adults and $500 per dependant, to be extended to those without a social security number — including those in the country illegally who file taxes via an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

The senators’ letter also notes provisions that would give health care to illegal immigrants.

“We are concerned these changes will not only impose additional fiscal burdens on our nation’s budget but will also incentivize further unlawful immigration,” they wrote.

Among the questions they have for the CBO is how many illegal immigrants would be able to claim stimulus payments and how much it will cost, and how many illegal immigrants would benefit from the work authorization — and the estimated impact that would have on the job market.

“It’s time the American people have a fuller understanding of exactly how much Speaker Pelosi’s policies will cost them. While we have estimates of how much H.R. 6800 may cost in total, we believe Congress must know the costs of the specific provisions providing benefits to illegal immigrants,” they said.

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President Trump on Tuesday poured cold water on the chance of Republicans and Democrats coming to a deal on stimulus, saying that Pelosi was “not negotiating in good faith.”

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the

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Three Republican senators test positive for COVID-19, adding to uncertainty surrounding Supreme Court pick

The coronavirus outbreak gripping the White House spread to Capitol Hill on Friday morning, raising the prospect that the virus could disrupt Republicans’ plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before the November election.



a group of people standing in front of a building: Judge Amy Coney Barrett spoke after being nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House on Sept. 26. Several people who were in attendance, including the president, have since tested positive for COVID-19, imperiling Barrett's confirmation process.


© OLIVIER DOULIERY
Judge Amy Coney Barrett spoke after being nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House on Sept. 26. Several people who were in attendance, including the president, have since tested positive for COVID-19, imperiling Barrett’s confirmation process.

Two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary committee — Mike Lee of Utah, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina – revealed Friday that they have tested positive for the potentially deadly disease.

Their positive diagnoses raised concerns that the virus had spread at a Saturday Rose Garden ceremony, at which Trump announced he was nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

On Saturday morning, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said he has tested positive for COVID-19. His office said he is not experiencing symptoms.

The senators are among six people who attended the event, which featured few masks and little social distancing, who have since tested positive for the virus.

Trump, the first lady, and top Trump aide Hope Hicks all attended the event and subsequently tested positive, showing symptoms in the expected five- to seven-day window following the event. Also Friday, the president of the University of Notre Dame, the Rev. John Jenkins, announced he, too, had tested positive for COVID-19. Jenkins attended the Saturday Rose Garden ceremony.

Earlier in the week, Jenkins sent a letter to university students and staff apologizing for not wearing a mask during Saturday’s Rose Garden ceremony for Barrett, who is a Notre Dame graduate and law professor.

Video of the event also shows Lee unmasked and hugging other attendees.

Both Lee and Tillis said they would isolate for 10 days. Lee vowed in a statement that he would “be back to work in time to join my Judiciary Committee colleagues in advancing the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.”

While the Centers for Disease Control recommend those who test positive should isolate for at least 10 days after their symptoms appear, the agency said doctors may recommend longer isolation periods depending on the severity of the disease.

Guidelines issued by the CDC dictate that Barrett should quarantine for 14 days, because she met with Lee in person (and without masks) a few days ago.

Barrett was diagnosed with the virus over the summer but has since recovered, The Washington Post reported Friday — information that had not previously been made public. The science on immunity following recovery is unsettled. Though public health experts generally believe recovery from COVID-19 confers some immunity and the World Health Organization has said repeated infections are not common, researchers in Hong Kong recently reported evidence that a second infection is possible.

Since receiving the Supreme Court nomination, Barrett is being tested for the virus daily and had

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Two GOP senators test positive for Covid-19, potentially jeopardizing Barrett confirmation vote

Two Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Friday that they had tested positive for Covid-19, potentially jeopardizing the GOP’s hopes of swiftly confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court if they were both to remain unable to vote in the full Senate through the end of the month.



Mike Lee, Thom Tillis are posing for a picture: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)


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Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina announced they’d tested positive — just days after attending a White House event where President Donald Trump nominated Barrett. Multiple attendees of that event, including Trump, have tested positive in the week since the ceremony, which featured many people not wearing masks and not observing social distancing protocols.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday renewed demands for Republicans to delay Barrett’s confirmation hearings. But Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham told CNN on Friday night he plans to move ahead with confirmation hearings on October 12 and a committee vote later in the month.

Confirmation hearings could go on without Lee and Tillis, both of whom met in person with Barrett earlier this week, and could participate virtually in the hearings.

Graham said he needs the two senators to be back by October 15, when the committee will begin its debate of the nomination after the hearings are done.

The South Carolina Republican said he expects the members who have tested positive to be back in time for a committee vote on October 22. The concern is if Democrats boycott the commitee vote, the GOP may not have a quorum for that vote if both senators are absent. The committee rules require a majority of members on the panel to be present for a quorum.

But even if they don’t have a quorum, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can always advance the nomination to the floor under the rules.

The greater concern for Republicans is the Senate floor vote, for which lawmakers do need to be present to vote and for which the GOP has no margin for error. If Tillis and Lee were to be gone for an extended period, it would threaten the chances of confirming Barrett, given Republicans’ 53-47 majority.

Already, two other Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have signaled they are unlikely to vote for Barrett because they think the high court selection should be made by whoever wins the White House on November 3.

Video: Trump has Covid, now what? (CNN)

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If only Lee were out, Barrett could still get confirmed with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. But if one more Republican were unavailable to vote, they wouldn’t have the votes to confirm Barrett. So now that Tillis is also entering isolation, the GOP’s math gets trickier since it’s unknown how long the senators will be out.

Republicans have told CNN the current plan is to vote on the

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White House starts outreach to key senators on Supreme Court pick

The administration has not disclosed the identity of the nominee in its outreach to senators, but Trump’s choice is widely believed to be Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

The courtesy one-on-one meetings between a Supreme Court nominee and senators are a traditional fixture of the confirmation process. Depending on the senator, the visits range from quick photo ops to lengthy, in-depth discussions about a nominee’s judicial philosophy.

The outreach to Democratic senators, in particular, shows the White House wants at least the semblance of a bipartisan process at the start of what will surely be a deeply contentious nomination fight. It’s unclear whether some Democratic senators would boycott a courtesy visit with the nominee, as most GOP senators did with Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016.

Two other officials said aides to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have told Republican offices to start preparing for meetings with the eventual nominee. GOP leaders are privately aiming for a final confirmation vote just days before the Nov. 3 election, with confirmation hearings starting the week of Oct. 12. That timetable is subject to change.

The White House late Thursday night had no comment on the pending nominee visits.

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